Report says unions help make savings

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HAVING unions in the workplace saves employers millions of pounds a year, it has been claimed.

A new report – Facility Time for Union Reps: Separating Fact from Fiction – says that union reps negotiating with employers creates cost savings.

These come from having more productive and better trained staff, safer workplaces, fewer cases going to employment tribunals and more loyal employees.

The TUC report written by Gregor Gall, professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire, says that a lot of union reps’ work takes place in their own time and that less than a quarter of the time they spend on union work is paid for by an employer.

The report claims that for every £1 spent on union time in the public sector, between £3-9 is returned in accrued benefits. It says that unions save UK employers £701m a year.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The highly exaggerated and wholly inaccurate figures being bandied around by groups and individuals on the right as to the cost of unions in the public sector are supposedly borne out of a desire to save money.

“In reality they are nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on unions and their ability to represent workers across the public sector.

“Yet our research shows that there are huge benefits to employers, in both the public and private sectors, to be had as a result of the funding of facility time for union reps.

“Successive governments have recognised the moral, legal and economic case for supporting workplace reps. Ministers would be wise to do likewise and avoid what appear to be ideologically-driven announcements designed to appease right wing backbenchers.”

Support from a number of employers for unions is expressed in the report. Liz Chandler, Merseytravel’s director of corporate development, says: “We greatly value the contribution made by union reps and the relationship that managers have with them.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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